The word "psychosis" is used to describe conditions that affect the mind, in which there has been some loss of contact with reality. The terms "early psychosis" or "first episode psychosis" mean that an individual is experiencing psychosis for the first time.
Hallucinations, delusions (false beliefs), paranoia and disorganized thoughts and speech are symptoms of psychosis. These symptoms can seem so real that often the person does not realize that they are experiencing psychosis. Psychosis also affects feelings and behaviour.
Psychotic episodes are periods of time when symptoms of psychosis are strong and interfere with regular life. Although the lengths of these episodes vary from person to person and may only last a few hours or days, psychosis is most likely to continue for weeks, months or even years unless the person is given proper treatment.
The experience of psychosis varies greatly from person to person and individuals experiencing psychosis may have very different symptoms.
Who gets psychosis?
Approximately 3% of people will experience a psychotic episode at some stage in their life, although a first episode usually occurs in adolescence or early adult life. Psychosis occurs across all cultures and levels of socioeconomic status and affects males and females equally.
Being able to treat psychosis early is very important, since it usually starts during a very critical stage of a young person's life. Adolescents and young adults are just starting to develop their own identity, form lasting relationships, and make serious plans for their careers and future. A successful recovery leads to a healthy, productive future.